A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)

How long would you like a 6WC-like challenge to run for?

Poll ended at Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:22 pm

3 weeks each month (21 days)
19
66%
Almost a month (26 days)
3
10%
5 weeks, not matching with months (35 days)
0
No votes
6 weeks like the original, eight times a year, not month-matching (42 days)
3
10%
Two months (60 days)
4
14%
 
Total votes: 29

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A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Ser » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:22 pm

I have an evening class right now where I am supposed to work on a somewhat simple project of completely my own choice, as long as it's implementable within four weeks and I carry out a professional type of documentation and testing. I figured I'd try to make a Twitter bot and accompanying website holding a periodic challenge similar to that of Sprachprofi's 6 Week Challenge.

It will have the following differences from Sprachprofi's bot:
  • It will run throughout the whole year, with each challenge being separated from the previous one by only a few days.
  • It will have more relevant categories to classify students in, namely intensity (extensive vs intensive students), and level (beginner vs intermediate vs advanced). Everybody will be dumped together by default on the website (as it is done now), but you will be able to filter people by the categories easily. (Sprachprofi's categories, work and forum origin, will not be used at all.)
  • It will have a much better list of languages you can sign up with. I will simply use the list of languages the UniLang forum uses. If it has covered that forum's needs, it will cover ours. (I could always add extra languages as well.)

("Beginner" would be defined as "working towards finishing A2", "intermediate" as "working towards finishing B2", and "advanced" as "working past B2".)

However, I am not sure how long it should run, and figured I could just ask the forum.

Note that I will only be considering the five options I put in the poll. I deem two weeks as too short and anything above two months as too long. Others are welcome to make such Twitter bots with my code if they want challenges 3+ months long, as my code will be Apache-licensed and public. I will not necessarily choose the most popular option if the discussion in this thread goes elsewhere.

The poll is open for 20 days from today (March 4th).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EDIT: Some details about what I intend to make

Ser wrote:Okay, after spending an hour thinking about the nature of the challenge, this is what I've come up with for what I'm going to make. I am assuming the poll will remain as it is with the three-week option winning.

Intention of the challenge
* To focus on language learning for a short time in a spirit of competition over hours spent learning, against people of a similar intensity and skill level.
* To focus on language learning in a spirit of competition against yourself, as you compare yourself with your own previous challenge runs in a similar intensity and skill level. This is almost certainly going to be three weeks looking at the poll, which means you'll be able to accumulate your own data quickly. (You can always request to delete your data from the website too, even long after the challenge run ends.)

What you do
* You register with one Focus Language you want to be compared by against other people in the leaderboard, specifying intensity and skill level.
* Once the challenge run starts, you report how long you study in a language, optionally with what materials you use. You can report as many languages as you wish, but only your Focus Language will count towards the leaderboard. Then the three weeks are up.
* You are asked to study at least one hour for every week of the challenge has (so at least three hours total). Otherwise, in an automatic fashion, your data for this one challenge run is politely removed at the end of the challenge.

What happens (what the bot and website do)
* At the end of each week, the Twitter bot and the website announce the leading people in each category where there's two or more participants. This means the 1st and 2nd weeks have mid-way prizes by themselves. At the end of the 3rd week, the leaderboard is frozen into the history page.
* You are able to compare participants in a given leaderboard according to time spent studying, filtering people by intensity and skill level.
* You are able to see numbers and pretty graphs of how much you have studied each language in a given challenge run or all challenge runs and with which materials.
* You are able to see how much a language is reported to have been studied so far.
Last edited by Ser on Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Brun Ugle » Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:57 pm

Would it be possible to sign up and track multiple languages or just one? I imagine that allowing multiple languages would be complicated because each language might be at a different level and the person might be studying them in different ways (extensively vs intensively).

I think a short challenge would suit me better. I find I burn out after a few weeks in the 6WC, and judging from the scores, most people seem to slow down after the first half. I also find it useful to work intensively on a problem area, but only for a short time, then I’d like to move on to something else. Also, since you would be classifying students as intensive or extensive, I think a shorter challenge would be more suitable as it would allow one to change study methods after a few weeks.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Ser » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:16 pm

Brun Ugle wrote:Would it be possible to sign up and track multiple languages or just one? I imagine that allowing multiple languages would be complicated because each language might be at a different level and the person might be studying them in different ways (extensively vs intensively).

Oh, that's something I hadn't thought about at all! Thank you for that. I'm just designing it right now, so anything is possible. ;)

I should definitely implement it so that it tracks multiple languages, even if studied with different intensities and at different levels of skill.

I don't think it would be complicated, because the idea is to allow fair comparison by filtering the leaderboard. It's true that the default, unfiltered leaderboard will have a strong bias towards advanced-level extensive studying, because people doing that accumulate a lot of hours easily, but I could just add a note that the leaderboard should be filtered to make a fair comparison. One should compare apples with apples.
Last edited by Ser on Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Cavesa » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:26 pm

If short, then short. I voted for the 3 weeks. And I like the way it can start many times a year. I am looking forward to being able to finally participate in such challenges again. This could be a great impulse! But if other options win, it still sounds great!
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Ser » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:31 pm

Ser wrote:
Brun Ugle wrote:Would it be possible to sign up and track multiple languages or just one? I imagine that allowing multiple languages would be complicated because each language might be at a different level and the person might be studying them in different ways (extensively vs intensively).
[...]

I don't think it would be complicated, because the idea is to allow fair comparison by filtering the leaderboard.

Hmm, but the more I think about it, the more I start to see complexity. If there are two students, let's call them Amy and Ben, and they have scores like:

    Amy: 20 hours (Korean, beginner) + 11 hours (French, intermediate) = 31 hours total
    Ben: 9 hours (Mandarin, beginner) + 28 hours (German, intermediate) = 37 hours total

and I filter the leaderboard by the beginner level of skill, should Amy be awarded a better position than Ben, even though Ben has more total hours and has simply focused on German more? I was thinking she should, as we're comparing beginner-level studying only, but I'm not sure if this matches with my sense of fairness. (EDIT: Moreover, if one is doing extensive learning and the other intensive learning, the difference could be very disparate.) Hmm... I need to think more about this.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby ロータス » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:07 pm

Ser wrote:Hmm, but the more I think about it, the more I start to see complexity. If there are two students, let's call them Amy and Ben, and they have scores like:

    Amy: 20 hours (Korean, beginner) + 11 hours (French, intermediate) = 31 hours total
    Ben: 9 hours (Mandarin, beginner) + 28 hours (German, intermediate) = 37 hours total

and I filter the leaderboard by the beginner level of skill, should Amy be awarded a better position than Ben, even though Ben has more total hours and has simply focused on German more? I was thinking she should, as we're comparing beginner-level studying only, but I'm not sure if this matches with my sense of fairness. (EDIT: Moreover, if one is doing extensive learning and the other intensive learning, the difference could be very disparate.) Hmm... I need to think more about this.

> I filter the leaderboard by the beginner level of skill, should Amy be awarded a better position than Ben, even though Ben has more total hours and has simply focused on German more?

Yes because you are filtering by Beg and not Int. If I want to go up against other Beginners, I don't care what they do in their Int language. I beating them because they choose to focus more on their Int language than their Beg.

>Moreover, if one is doing extensive learning and the other intensive learning, the difference could be very disparate.

This is my problem with the 6WC. People just watching TV and movies are of course going to be doing more 'studying' than people going through a textbook or reading a book. You can prevent this by making this challenge very specific. Is this a challenge to read more books, watch more in your language, speak more, flashcards etc? Didn't say in your first post so can you clarify what kind of challenge this will be or is that still a work in progress?
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Ser » Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:25 am

ロータス wrote:Yes because you are filtering by Beg and not Int. If I want to go up against other Beginners, I don't care what they do in their Int language. I beating them because they choose to focus more on their Int language than their Beg.

The problem I see here is that you'd be comparing apples and oranges. If you're Amy filtering for beginners, Ben did make some effort studying intermediate German, and if you choose to ignore that you choose to ignore what might've actually been superior studying effort on the part of Ben (quantified imperfectly as self-reported hours, but effort nevertheless).

I am now seeing there is good merit to Sprachprofi's solution of registering with only one language. The website can do some math and some interest graphs with every and any language you want to report during a challenge run, but for the sake of competition and comparison you choose which language to be compared by. This is where I think I could improve the current situation with better participant categories like intensity and skill level.
ロータス wrote:>Moreover, if one is doing extensive learning and the other intensive learning, the difference could be very disparate.

This is my problem with the 6WC. People just watching TV and movies are of course going to be doing more 'studying' than people going through a textbook or reading a book. You can prevent this by making this challenge very specific. Is this a challenge to read more books, watch more in your language, speak more, flashcards etc? Didn't say in your first post so can you clarify what kind of challenge this will be or is that still a work in progress?

I see what you're saying. Yes, this challenge is based on time spent, since effort is not as easily quantifiable in a self-reported way as time.

The thing is, if you participate there is no prize over other people involved except seeing your name at the top of an HTML table, so I do hope people will sort themselves in the correct category. Note that this problem is also there even if I specify the activities. You mention reading books as an intensive skill, but I can easily read a book for hours extensively in French, because my reading skill in that language is high and I'm used to reading a lot. I could even do it with written Portuguese, a language I've never even studied, because of its great similarity with written Spanish. And then there's the fact people often do more than one activity. I could combine intensive and extensive in a challenge run studying in French if I wanted to.

Okay, I completely take away what I said before about this not being complicated. :lol:

This back-and-forth discussion is really helping me design it, and I do want to improve on the fairness of the 6WC.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, after spending an hour thinking about the nature of the challenge, this is what I've come up with for what I'm going to make. I am assuming the poll will remain as it is with the three-week option winning.

Intention of the challenge
* To focus on language learning for a short time in a spirit of competition over hours spent learning, against people of a similar intensity and skill level.
* To focus on language learning in a spirit of competition against yourself, as you compare yourself with your own previous challenge runs in a similar intensity and skill level. This is almost certainly going to be three weeks looking at the poll, which means you'll be able to accumulate your own data quickly. (You can always request to delete your data from the website too, even long after the challenge run ends.)

What you do
* You register with one Focus Language you want to be compared by against other people in the leaderboard, specifying intensity and skill level.
* Once the challenge run starts, you report how long you study in a language, optionally with what materials you use. You can report as many languages as you wish, but only your Focus Language will count towards the leaderboard. Then the three weeks are up.
* You are asked to study at least one hour for every week of the challenge has (so at least three hours total). Otherwise, in an automatic fashion, your data for this one challenge run is politely removed at the end of the challenge.

What happens (what the bot and website do)
* At the end of each week, the Twitter bot and the website announce the leading people in each category where there's two or more participants. This means the 1st and 2nd weeks have mid-way prizes by themselves. At the end of the 3rd week, the leaderboard is frozen into the history page.
* You are able to compare participants in a given leaderboard according to time spent studying, filtering people by intensity and skill level.
* You are able to see numbers and pretty graphs of how much you have studied each language in a given challenge run or all challenge runs and with which materials.
* You are able to see how much a language is reported to have been studied so far.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby lingua » Tue Mar 05, 2019 2:41 am

I also picked 3 weeks per month.. Being a procrastinator, these various challenges are a great help to me. I like the idea of choosing a specific thing to focus on for the three weeks. Focus on writing one month, grammar another month, etc.
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby languist » Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:11 am

Haven't read the suggestions in the posts above me yet, but maybe they'll be similar to my thoughts !

I like the idea of 3 weeks, because I've pretty much decided to do the same thing anyway. Even though language study is best approached in a holistic manner, I find that I improve much more (in anything) when I work on it really intensely for a short period of time, at the expense of other things, then move on. For example, a few weeks only looking at pronunciation, or a week only concerning vocabulary acquisition, a month on core grammar, etc.

I've started recording this process already, so why not add an element of friendly competition? I'm in!
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Re: A new periodic short challenge with a Twitter bot

Postby Serpent » Tue Mar 05, 2019 6:06 am

Great idea and good luck!
I don't think anyone's learning is 100% intensive (and very few do 100% extensive, especially if dictionary use counts as intensive). Also, what if you change your mind mid-challenge?
IMO, it would make sense to count either each activity as extensive vs intensive, or to count only intensive ones for everyone. The latter would echo the recent discussions about the 6WC - there's been some interest in making it a challenge for explicit learning, but allowing advanced learners to take part. So far nobody has approached Sprachprofi about it.
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